The first generation of BMW 2 Series Active Tourer sold so well – over 420,000 units – that it warranted a second go at it. This new second-generation premium minivan is shaping up to be a big step up for casual customers and enthusiasts alike. With a design that resembles a crossover more than a minivan, the new 2 Series Active Tourer is also more premium than ever before. It also inherits a lot of features from more expensive BMWs – such as the iX – without the added premium prices.
To sample this new front-wheel drive offering from BMW, we flew to Malaga, Spain where the Bavarians hosted its international media launch. We had the chance – over the course of two days – to drive three different variants – the BMW 220i Active Tourer, 223i Active Tourer and the new top model 230e plug-in hybrid.
Bolder and More Aggressive
The 2022 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer features one of the largest design jumps we’ve seen from BMW in some time. It’s far bolder and more aggressive looking than before, thanks to a massive new grille paired with sleek new headlights, slim taillights, and flush i4-style door handles. The side view is now closer in design to a small crossover with a far more attractive C-pillar and roofline. The new car also sits a bit lower and has a taller, more upright front end.
The back end of the new 2 Series Active Tourer is likely the exterior’s most improved area. It gets all-new taillights that are slim, modern, and much more premium looking than the chunky lights on the previous-gen model. For the first time in a combustion-powered BMW, the 2 Series Active Tourer hides its exhaust pipes.
Huge Quality Improvements Inside
The 2 Series Active Tourer was always known for having a comfortable and spacious interior. But the quality of materials and trims was not up to par with the other BMW models. That has all changed in the new model. The dash design is simple, elegant, and modern, while its tech is pulled straight from BMW’s top-of-the-line iX. It also gets some interesting unique touches, such as the all-new seat design and the new door panels. There are also more cubby holes for storage, such as underneath the armrest and the clever vertical-ish wireless charging tray ahead of the cupholders.
The large LCD screens from the i4 and iX also landed in the Active Tourer, powered by the latest iDrive 8 infotainment system. Furthermore, the new Live Cockpit Professional digital gauge screen is miles ahead of the old analog dials, in terms of functionality and technology. The seats are unique to the Active Tourer, offering great lumber and side support. Not only are there new standard seats, there are new Sport seats as well, for cars with M Sport packages. The latter of which come in leather/Alcantara and look very supportive.
Another novelty is the lack of an iDrive knob, so all the commands are now performed via touch or voice. A vertical wireless charging pad is also a premiere for a BMW model. Same goes for the toggle switch-style gear selector which is simple and easy to use. The double passenger vents also stand out with their design, while the steering wheel is also new and looks quite good, especially in M Sport guise, with its skeletonized metal spokes at the bottom.
One of the benefits of the front-wheel drive architecture is the additional interior passenger and cargo space. With the rear seats up, the 2 Series Active Tourer has 470 liters of cargo space, but fold the rear seats and its cargo space expands for 1,455 liters. Though, hybrid models lose a bit of space, dropping to 406/1,370 liters.
Without question, the interior is the U06 2022 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer most improved area and the one that will draw the most customers over to it. However, it still needs to feel and drive like a BMW.
BMW 220i – The 3-Cylinder Driving Experience
Our first go was with the BMW 220i Active Tourer. The three-cylinder powered model comes with 170 horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque (280 Nm) sending the power to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch Aisin transmission. The engine comes with a new technical update. More than 90 percent of the parts are new or improved, including a dual-injection system, the Miller Combustion method and an Evo ignition system. It also comes with the 48V mild hybrid which improves the fuel efficiency.
Yet, aside from the new engine, there’s actually some impressive engineering going on in the Active Tourer. An aluminum hood and aluminum bits inside the chassis cell give it a stiffer, more exit chassis than most other BMWs. Those lightweight improvements, along with newly revised lift-related dampers and what BMW calls near-actuator wheel slip limitation, will make it feel a bit livelier in the bends.
In real life driving, the near-actuator wheel slip limitation certainly improves agility, traction, and stability. The ARB tech applies the brakes as required at the front wheels when attacking a bend, giving the car a more neutral steering behavior. The adaptive M Suspension lowers the ride height fifteen millimeters, so you get sportier looks and improved driving experience.
The handling behavior can be adjusted through the new My Modes feature. There is a choice between Personal, Sport and Efficient. All three are self-explanatory and each can activate specific settings for the powertrain and steering. If you’re looking for a road trip companion, the Personal mode is the way to go. The BMW 220i Active Tourer feels at home on smooth roads delivering a serene and calm ride. And a bit more body roll.
Switch to Sport, the minivan gets sharper and more dynamic, adapting to a more aggressive driving style. It’s also the preferred mode when you attack the tight curvy roads around Malaga. The steering input is also more precise than in the Personal mode, while the suspension better absorbs the bumps in the road. The body roll is not completely gone, but it’s a bit more manageable. This is why also the new 2 Series Active Tourer feels more like a small crossover than the previous generation minivan.
It has been a while since we drove a BMW with 170 horsepower, but most of the time, it did the job. Of course, overtaking can always benefit from more ponnies, and this is why BMW offers quite a few powertrain choices.
BMW 223i – The Next Level Up
That brings us to the BMW 223i Active Tourer. With 218 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque (360 Nm), the new Active Tourer is significantly sharper on the road and a lot more fun to toss in corners. The power bump is immediately noticeable, giving the car a more composed feel on the road and certainly a lot more excitement to the driver. Overtaking is far easier and faster, while existing corners is a more enjoyable experience. The sluggish feel of the 220i model is now gone.
Although understeer is still the prevailing characteristic at the limit, the ARB improves the traction and directional stability. Is the Active Tourer delivering the usual BMW driving dynamics? That’s fairly impossible considering its platform, design and the target demographic. Yet, with a 0.26 drag coefficient, it is sportier than the previous generation.
Where the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer shines is in the interior and cargo space. It offers plenty of space for five people and their luggage, along with a very comfortable driving position even for drivers on the tall side. I’m 6″2 (1.89 m) tall and the driving position was extremely comfortable, both in length, width and height. Same goes for the rear seating position where the headroom was quiet generous (at least 5-6 inches of space).
The new seats offer great lumber and side support, and they were extremely comfortable over the course of hundreds of kilometers. The automated driving systems are worthy of a higher class BMW, so customers will get to enjoy their benefits without having to pay top dollar. Standard specification includes Cruise Control with brake function, Lane Departure Warning, the Evasion Assistant and front-collision warning. The BMW Drive Recorder functions are quite cool and entertaining when traveling with family, while the Remote Theft Recorder adds a new level of security.
Should I Buy One?
There is very little doubt that the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer won’t be a hit for the Bavarians. The new minivan with crossover-like characteristics improves upon all the areas of the previous generation, but without a huge price hike. It is also far more premium and BMW-like than ever before. And if you pick the 230e plug-in hybrid, it will be the fastest minivan picking up your kids from school.
The Active Tourer remains a non-US affair, but European customers will be able to take delivery of their units starting in March. xDrive models will follow later in the year and those are likely to be the customers’ first choice. An all-electric version is not likely to arrive on this generation, but it would absolutely make sense in the future.
BMW 223i Active Tourer
BMW 220i Active Tourer